July 21st, 2008 jen Posted in 1999, Friends of Suai News, News from Port Phillip, Truth & Justice Commission 2 Comments »
A response by journalist Hamish Mcdonald in the Sydney Morning Herald to the news this week's report of a joint Indonesia-East Timor "Truth and Justice Commission" that has blurred the blame for
the horrors of 1999, in which some 1500 people died and the scorched earth campaign that followed.
This story contributes to the knowledge on this website about the murderers of Hilario Madeira and the others in Suai.
Father Hilario is always spoken of so well by everybody I meet. That was an outstanding man and an exemplary priest is testified to by his stand in Suai on the 5th of September, 1999. Father Hilario and the other priests knew they were to be attacked before it took place. Father Hilario kept people informed of what was happening on the ground as it happened and he and the other priests had sufficient time to leave Our Lady of Fatima Church and save their own lives, but they chose to stay and die with their congregation. By reputation he was also the kind of priest that did not see that it was necessary to destroy a culture in order to take up the beliefs of christianity. To the contrary the people of Suai were encouraged to maintain their culture and their language. This philosophy appeared to be carried on by Father Rene Manubag when I was there in 2000. When there was important rituals and ceremonies taking place the women wore the tais and danced. When I saw a similar ceremonies in Dili and elsewhere the Timorese involved in the ceremony all wore white gowns familiar to us in European Christian settings, and there certainly wasn't any traditional dance. Where else cin East Timor could we have imagined that the ritual around the circle of stones on the 6th of September, 2000 on the First Anniversary of the Massacre could have taken place alongside the Catholic Mass? Anybody reading this who can tell us more about Father Hilario, please, write to us.